Researchers have found a way to efficiently harvest energy from rain, a feat that has been attempted for years with no success. Even “efficiently” is an understatement, as it is crazy to imagine just one drop of rain having the ability to produce so much energy. The generator uses a field-effect transistor style structure to produce 140V from just one drop of rain, enough to power 140 small LED bulbs.
The research team was led by scientists from the City University of Hong Kong (CityU). They published their findings in the scientific journal Nature, under the title “A droplet-based electricity generator with high instantaneous power density.” The main driving factor for this breakthrough is the DEG that has a very high instantaneous power density that similar devices do not have. This also allows the energy conversion efficiency to be higher.
“Our research shows that a drop of 100 microlitres [1 microlitre = one-millionth liter] of water released from a height of 15 cm can generate a voltage of over 140V, and the power generated can light up 100 small LED lights,” said Professor Wang.
According to the CityU press release, “The device consists of an aluminum electrode and an indium tin oxide (ITO) electrode with a film of PTFE deposited on it. The PTFE/ITO electrode is responsible for the charge generation, storage, and induction. When a falling water droplet hits and spreads on the PTFE/ITO surface, it naturally “bridges” the aluminum electrode and the PTFE/ITO electrode, translating the original system into a closed-loop electric circuit.”
According to Professor Wang, he hopes that this research could help solve the energy crisis of the world. Such technology could be fitted to water bottles, umbrellas, rooftops, etc., to generate energy. However, there is still a lot of research that has to be done before this technology can become widespread. There will be many obstacles to face, most importantly cost reduction for mass production of these devices.
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